To Marina del Rey with love: Local businessmen give back to their community with second annual film festival

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Posted October 2, 2013 by The Argonaut in News
By Michael Aushenker
Malibu has one. Pacific Palisades has one. Santa Monica and Venice each have one. So why doesn’t Marina del Rey have a film festival?
That’s the question John Gursha and Peter Greene, partners at the Marina-based firm Film Marketing Services, asked two years ago.
“We did our research and (we learned) there was never a film festival here,” Gursha said.
So in 2012, Gursha, who lives in neighboring Del Rey, and Greene, who resides in the Palisades, decided to mount the Marina del Rey Film Festival. The second annual Marina del Rey Film Festival returns Thursday, Oct. 3 through Sunday, Oct. 6. Admission is free.
“There’s a huge need for it,” Gursha said, explaining how the pair turned to area businesses and the Marina del Rey area chamber of commerce for help in finding local sponsors.
Last year, screenings were held at the Courtyard by Marriot hotel (now the Hotel MdR). The inaugural film festival screened about 20 films and shorts, including “The Guest at Central Park West” starring John Marshall Johns, and “Crooked Arrows,” featuring erstwhile Superman Brandon Routh.
This year, the festival will screen the short film “Good Men,” starring Mark Rydell and Ed Asner, and “Snake and Mongoose,” featuring medical-TV show refugees Noah Wylie (“ER”) and Jesse Williams (“Grey’s Anatomy”).
This year’s event will take advantage of the spacious Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, where two evening features and about 20 films and shorts will screen on Friday, Oct. 4 through Sunday, Oct 6, including “Fame High,” directed by Oscar-nominated Scott Hamilton Kennedy (the 2008 documentary “The Garden”), and the winner of the student Academy Awards for best cinematography for “The Bright Side.” The slate of independent films will include comedy, drama and documentaries.
Most of the sponsors are local entities, including Brookfield Properties, Hornblower and Fisherman’s Village.
“There’s a lot of moving parts,” Greene said, “from booking the films to dealing with the venues.
“Each year, we’re trying to add a little more. Last year, we wanted to get our feet wet. This year, we’ve got a kick-off party and screening. We have no illusions. We’re not going to be Sundance or even the L.A. Film Festival.”
Gursha added, “All of our screenings are free. We wanted to give back. We love working here.”
Information, MdrFilmFestival.com.
Michael@ArgonautNews.com

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